Imagine a society of cannibals, at peace among themselves, surrounding a newly caught victim. All rubbing their stomachs, anxiously waiting for the end of the ceremony, when the sacrifice and eating begins. Could we interpret the rubbing of the stomachs equivalent to the vote of majority for the practice of their venerated custom. Could we call this a form of "democracy"? Different than ours but nevertheless it has the majority rule in there, albeit by rubbing of the stomachs. Were British anti democratic when they tried to stop these practices among South Pacific societies? Was that the sign of their "imperialistic" cultural transgression?
Let your fantasies go wild. Imagine if the sacrificial person had access to a secret weapon. With this weapon the targeted victim could prevent himself from being consumed. This weapon could inflict extreme damage to the cannibals. The numbers affected could be few or many. Is he, the ex-victim, committing "genocide" or the crime of "dispersing" a culture.
While we know that it has been part of our past human practice, cannibalism as a cultural phenomena is relatively rare today. This is not the case for another cultural phenomena, stoning of women, female genital mutilation, rape of women as normal part of marital life, wrapping women in pieces of cloth (chador, burka or the likes) and countless other discriminations which in the modern world are considered inhuman and only a step above cannibalism. It does not take too much imagination to consider these slews of antiquated cultural practices as slow, very slow cannibalization of women. What if a woman or a few of them had access to that secret weapon and did quite a bit of damage to the forces that are determined to maintain these cultural practices. And by pushing these reactionary forces back opened the space for themselves to begin to claim their own freedoms. In their use of the secret weapon are these women "anti democratic", are they committing "genocide" or cultural "dispersment"? If anybody helped these women are they "complicit"?
My Marxists friends and many leftists, many reformists, many intellectuals overwhelmingly men, in Iran might think my scenarios as illusory and irrelevant. Many are trying to find a working relationship with the Islamic Republic to fight against "imperialism". These days they are sorting among the candidates to see which one best fits their criteria. The interesting thing is that all the approved candidates are hardliners on the nuclear question and their opposition to the west. One of them should fit the "anti-imperialist" dogma of these intellectuals who want to reform the "revolution", supposedly putting it on a proper track.
Actually they are in denial. They are in denial by ignoring the central question of the Iranian society: Freedom of Women! There is not a hint of it in this election and for a very good reason. The whole Iranian "revolution" was an anti-women social upheaval and if one wants to properly characterize it, it was a "counter-revolution". It was a reactionary movement which the Marxists and the left and a broad spectrum of the intellectuals were unwittingly complicit in. This election is irrelevant whether Rafsanjani, Khatami or other opposition figures under house arrest were participating as candidates. Without the question of freedom for women, without their social and legal equality at the top of the agenda this election as all the previous ones can only be a cloak of justification for the 1979 reaction. Without this fundamental understanding those Iranian intellectuals will only play and replay their folly.
It became blunted but in the Iranian social development there was a "secret weapon". In their reaction to the west Iranian intellectuals totally misunderstood the use of this weapon. More on the next post …